We visited the Lakeside and Haverthwaite Railway and Windermere cruises whilst on holiday at Heysham and the Lakedistrict. We have visited the Lakeside and Haverthwaite previously when our child was a toddler, but this was our first time on the Windermere Cruise to Bowness.
Based on our previous visit to the cafe at Lakeside we decided to eat at the Haverthwaite cafe first. The cafe at Haverthwaite is in the station access from the platform. It didn't have a children's menu as such, but there were a number of the adult meals available as child portions which was certainly an improvement on the experience we had at Lakeside on our previous visit.
The train ride is fairly short but long enough for the children to enjoy it. We then went on the boat to Bowness On Windermere.
We had purchased a combined train and cruise ticket which was a significant saving on buying both individually which worked well. After getting off the train at Lakeside we then joined the queue to board the boat to Bowness-on-Windermere. As this was a peak time the queue was very long and they had put on an extra boat. The additional boat arrived first and they asked for anyone in the queue that wanted to go on this extra boat. We went on that boat, but was disappointed with it. The boat we took was a modern boat with seating on top (which was full) and table and chair seating inside. Once sat down we were limited to our seats and there wasn't much opportunity to move around. If you are travelling with children I'd recommend staying in the queue for the normal scheduled boat instead.
We alighted at Bowness-on-Windermere and spent a couple of hours in the town. We visited the amusement arcade under The Lakeside pub and restaurant. We have eaten at the restaurant a couple of times before, but it was several years ago (from memory I believe it was quite good). We didn't eat in the restaurant this time.
We then went up the hill towards the town where there is a great toy shop. The shop is quite small split over two floors (stairs up to the first floor), but it has an awful lot in such a small shop. There is just about enough space to get a pushchair in as long as it's not too busy. We then explored a few other shops and had ice creams from one of the many shops with large a large selection of different flavours which is quite common in Bowness. If you have longer to explore there is also the The World of Beatrix Potter exhibition and visitor attraction, but we took a separate trip into the Lake District to visit that.
We went back on one of the later boats. Note that if you are planning to return on the train then you have to make sure your return boat is before the departure time of the train as the boats continue running after the trains do. There was a long queue for the boat but we were able to board. I think the may have had to make some people wait for the next boat, but I'm not sure as the queue extended a long way behind us. There was one later boat that would have still got us back in time had we not got on this boat. They may put extra boats on for the link with the final return train journey, but if you need to get on to a certain boat and the outbound trip was busy then I suggest you arrive at the pier at least 15 minutes before departure time just in case.
The boat for our return journey was much better than the outbound journey. We folded our pushchair, but there was space to leave pushchairs up if required. There was seating areas on the deck (much of which was covered in case of rain) as well as an indoor cabin down some stairs which also had tables and a drinks and snack kiosk. The boat also had toilets on board.
Despite being a long queue in front of us we were able to get seats looking directly over the port side. It was starting to drop cold and towards the end of the journey we spent some time sitting in the cabin area where it was warmer, but doing so meant that we lost our seats on deck.
It was easy to walk around the boat and it made the journey more enjoyable exploring the boat and being able to go to other parts of the boat to get an unobstructed view of the other side of the lake.